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Proliferating Anemone

Epiactis prolifera

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The Proliferating Anemone has a short body with radiating white lines on the oral disk and longitudinal grooves on the column. The base is usually larger in diameter than the column. The animal’s color is highly variable, including gray, green, brown, red or blue. Often the animal has juvenile anemones attached to the base.

This anemone has an unusual reproductive capacity. Young adults are almost all functional females. As they mature, they become simultaneous hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female sex organs as opposed to being first one sex, then developing into another. As a result, they are capable of fertilizing themselves and others of their species.

This anemone got its name from a misunderstanding of this reproductive cycle. When specimens were first observed with juveniles attached to the base, the young were thought to have been produced by asexual budding — hence the name “proliferating.”

They normally feed on small crustaceans but when food is scarce, they will ingest the young attached to their stalk. Natural predators of this animal include the Leather Star and nudibranchs.

Range and Habitat 

The Proliferating Anemone ranges from southern Alaska to southern California. They are common on and under rocks in tide pools from the mid tidal zone to 30 feet (9 m) in depth.

Conservation Status

Common.